With the possibility of limiting social gatherings this Christmas, it is possible that more people than usual feel alone. Here’s what you can do to help yourself and others feel less isolated
It is the time of year when people often talk about their plans for Christmas. But with the resurgence of the coronavirus across much of Europe and closures in place in England and other nations, the countdown to the holiday period has been somewhat muted this year.
According to the Campaign to end loneliness, there were nine million people alone in the UK before the pandemic, a figure that has likely increased significantly since the restrictions came in.
Fortunately, there are many ways we can connect with each other over the next few weeks. From writing to strangers to volunteering for a charity, here’s how you can help combat loneliness this Christmas.
1. Write to a stranger
The mental health support organization Warrior is connecting lonely people through the written word this winter, encouraging participants to share some of the challenges they faced during the confinement, as well as their tips for staying resilient.
“We are linking people the old way and using writing as cathartic therapy to [help people] talking about their mental health with strangers and getting tips and advice from each other, in the hopes of making new friends in the process, ”says Sarah Drage, founder of WarriorKind’s Contact for Christmas project.
WarriorKind connects lonely people ‘old fashioned’ through the written word. Image: Green Chameleon
2. Call a (new) friend
The silver line operates the UK’s only confidential friendship phone service. Help connect older people experiencing loneliness with volunteers willing to take time for friendly chat.
“The phone is nearly universal, personal, and a relatively inexpensive way to create social connection,” explains Robin Hewings, Campaign to End Loneliness director of campaigns, policy and research. “It is bi-directional, but not symmetrical, so often one of the parties is much more vulnerable.”
Other organizations also offer opportunities for friendship. To visit Make friends with networks for more information.
3. Become a volunteer
The volunteer landscape looks very different this Christmas due to the pandemic, but there are still many opportunities to help others. Homeless charity Crisis seeks volunteers toAmong other things, conduct online activities, make calls to members, and even perform live music through Zoom.
There are also volunteer opportunities across the country with Meals on Wheels, which delivers dishes to people who cannot afford to buy or prepare their own meals.
“People who volunteer always tell me they do two things at the same time,” Hewings says. “They do something practical, but they also help people connect and enrich relationships. Being part of the social world around someone can be really valuable. “
Despite the pandemic, there are still opportunities to help isolated people this Christmas. Image: Andre Ouellet
4. Join an online social club
Bringing people together from all walks of life, The Cares family is an intergenerational social club with 18,000 members in London, Liverpool and Manchester.
Organizers, who host everything from contests and dances to group yoga, typically host events in person, but have moved all participants online during the shutdown.
CEO Alex Smith says the social club provides a valuable support network in tough times. “We have seen that older people support younger people so that they feel less anxious about the world and gain patience and perspective; and we have seen younger people support older people with daily phone calls, friendship and connection to the world, ”he says.
5. Jam with other people online
During the first blockade, many online choirs were launched to connect people through music. the Sofa singers is one of them and continues to bring hundreds of people online through song. Similarly, the Benedetti Foundation brings together amateur musicians and teaches people to play instruments in online workshops.
Another singing group Shared harmonies, host free, uplifting singing events online. Founder Emily Baylin says the classes “enhance confidence, communication, and well-being through inspirational singing.” So far, more than 300 people have gotten involved, from the ages of three to 92 and she is planning special Christmas harmony sessions in addition to ‘play and sing services’ for those who are not online.
Online choirs and music workshops are a great way to connect with others. Image: Bambi Corro
6. Walk and talk
Going for a walk with someone is an informal way to establish a connection, and is still allowed under current lockdown rules in England. If you don’t know any hikers in the area, you can join a local hikers group to connect with other hikers. Alternatively, there are many strollers looking for company on forums such as Go4awalk.com.
“Walking groups are good for your health, but there is also something wonderful about not directly confronting someone that makes it easier to have a conversation,” says Hewings.
7. Connect virtually with colleagues
Working from home can be very lonely. If you or your colleagues feel disconnected from each other, sign up for a game-based team building and wellness session with Jess Shaw, founder of Creative PACT.
Virtual workshops are fun and stress-busting, he says. “Playing in a group brings us to the present moment with a shared experience,” explains Shaw. “It’s joyous and we’ve found that playing the game has been an excellent tool for reaching across the screen and providing that connected experience.”
Image: Kevin Laminto